CPDM bigwig and Mayor of Douala V Council, Franҫoise Tsopyny Nguiazong epse Foning, gave up the ghost at about midday on Friday, January 23, at the Yaounde Central Hospital, from serious injuries she sustained in a ghastly road accident which occurred the previous weekend around Ebedda on the Yaounde-Bafoussam Highway.
The Post learnt that Foning had attended a meeting of the Association of Mayors in Yaounde after which she decided to, visit Bafou, her village in Menoua Division of the West Region, before returning to Douala.
Unfortunately, at Ebedda near the Sananga Bridge, a commercial motorcycle rider, aka ‘bendskin’, suddenly dashed into the highway from a secondary road. In a desperate bid to avoid a collision, her driver swerved the car, losing control in the process. Foning sustained serious injuries, including a fractured leg and was rushed hospital.
The Post leant from Foning family sources, that when President Biya learnt of the accident, he instructed that she be evacuated abroad for treatment. A special medically equipped plane was expected to fly out Foning, who is said to be quite close to President Biya and his wife, Chantal. But death struck.
Second Ghastly Accident
This was the second ghastly road accident in less than 10 years, involving the late politician. The first was on the Douala-Yaounde highway, around Mbankomo in the outskirts of Yaounde. Her vehicle was damaged beyond repairs but she came out injured but safe.
She was evacuated abroad for medical attention on the instructions of President Biya whom she thanked heartily on her return to Cameroon.
Foning The Politician
Foning, who was a member of the CPDM Central Committee at the time of her death, had a very rich political life.
She was one of very few fanatical supporters of Biya. Even during the tumultuous 1990’s when multiparty democracy was forced upon Biya, and when many of those passing around for CPDM elites today could not dare identify with the party Foning stuck out her neck for the CPDM.
At the creation of the CPDM in 1985, Foning occupied the position of President of the Wouri WCPDM, with Jean Jacques Ekindi as President of CPDM. By then, the entire Wouri Division (Douala), was one CPDM Section. In the early 90s, however, Douala was divided into five sub-divisions and the CPDM had to reorganise the local party structure to march, with each subdivision in Douala becoming a CPDM Section, named as Wouri 1-5 CPDM Sections.
Foning decided to instead run for the post of CPDM Section President, and became the pioneer President of the Wouri V CPDM Section, a post she held until her death.
As the undisputed leader of Bamileke CPDM elites in Douala, she entered Parliament, for the first time after the 1992 Legislative Elections as one of the CPDM MPs from Wouri and served three consecutive mandates (1992 – 2007).
Alleged Embezzlement Charge
Foning first became Mayor of Douala V Council in 2002, while still hanging on as MP in her third straight mandate, following her double win at the Municipal and Legislative polls. But following the law prohibiting accumulation of functions Foning preferred the post of Mayor to that of MP.
Last year, Foning was summoned by the Special Criminal Court in Yaounde for alleged embezzlement at the Council during her second mandate. She, naturally, claimed her innocence, claiming that her enemies were seeking her destruction.
Though Foning was known in the country more in the domain of politics, she was a businesswoman. She has been in business for over 30 years, though officials and militants of opposition parties in Douala had apparently, for political reasons, put question marks behind all her businesses.
Her company manufactured motor batteries. She was also into the upholstery business. She was also the proprietor of Dalida Voyage, in the airlines sector that is being managed by one of her daughters.
Foning was one of the main brains behind the creation of an association of Cameroon female entrepreneurs and became President. She was also a member of several international associations of business people.
She was elected President of an international association of female entrepreneurs which has members on all the five continents. At death, Foning was in her second five-year mandate as President of the Section for Industries at the Cameroon Chamber of Commerce.
In the domain of politics, Foning was considered by many as a controversial figure. Her rather exaggerated praise-singing for President Biya, as well as regular mobilisation of praise-singers that she ferried to different parts of the country to sing praises for Biya, was not pleasing to many Cameroonians, including even some WCPDM Section Presidents who saw her as trying to dominate their territories. Many Cameroonians, especially those of opposition parties, strongly criticised and castigated Foning for her determination to win elections at all cost. The 2007 Municipal Elections in Douala V were allegedly rigged by her, in complicity with the then DO of Douala V in such a scandalous way that the SDF did not only take the matter to the Supreme Court sitting in for the Constitutional Council. The Littoral SDF Chairman, Jean Michel Nintcheu, also dragged Foning, in her name, to court, though the case never progressed.
However, apparently embarrassed by what many termed as the stupidity that was so obvious in the election rigging operation, the Supreme Court cancelled the results of the Municipal Elections which the CPDM had ‘won’ by landslide. In a re-run of the elections, the CPDM list, headed by Foning, still ‘won’ by a simple majority.
The 2013 Municipal Elections in Douala V saw another standoff between Foning and the SDF, though it was of another nature. The CPDM list, headed by Foning, again ‘won’ the elections by simple majority, but she bluntly refused to respect the text that demanded that one of the posts of Deputy Mayors go to the SDF which came second in the elections. Foning gave all the five posts of Deputy Mayors to her fellow CPDM comrades. The Wouri SDO who supervised the election of Mayors in Douala, as well as the Littoral Governor and the Minister of Territorial Administration to whom the problem was presented, could not force her to respect the Law.
Local Administrators Scared Of Foning
One of the things which certainly did not go down well with many people, especially opposition militants in Douala, was the way in which successive local administrators (DOs, SDOs, Governors) were so scared of Foning, to the point where they were unable to call her to order even when she violated the law with impunity. DO after DO of Douala V, in particular, was often ridiculed by members of the public for behaving like Foning’s boy. Even Ministers that visited Douala clearly did everything to avoid any confrontation with her at working sessions.
Foning, who died at the age of 67, was a widow having lost her husband many years back. He left behind three children (two females and one male). The lone son, Salomon Tsopgny, was, at birth, given the complete names of Foning’s father. He is a Councillor at the Douala V urban Council. His name appeared in the CPDM list which his mother headed for the 2013 Municipal Elections simply as Salomon Tsopgny, thus many people did not identify him as Foning’s son.
Foning was born a princess, as her father was the Traditional Ruler of the Bafou Chiefdom in Menoua Division, West Region. She was later enthroned Queen Mother (Mafor) of Bafou.
Outside politics, Foning was known, especially by ordinary women in society, to be very generous. She was fondly called ‘La Mère’ (mother) by many.